If we are predisposed to believe
patterns have meaning, what sort
of meaning do they have? If we are
predisposed to seeing invisible agents
as explanations of patterns, what
sort of an explanation is an agent?
An agent is a cause, something or
someone that produces effects (
usually) for purposes. Even natural causes,
though they may have no apparent
purpose behind them, are still causes.
Not only is the principle that effects
have causes common and crucial to
‘patternicity’ and ‘agenticity’, it is a
much broader and more foundational
assumption of human (and animal)
cognition than either, and fundamental to science. 12
As such, since our predisposition
toward belief in a divine designer
comes from a sense of patterns and
causality, then apart from presuming
naturalism it’s still not clear why
the inference should simply be considered wrong. When we wrongly
infer that there is a predator behind
the bushes, we are still not wrong to
infer a cause for the rustling of the
bushes. Indeed, it is this principle of
causality hardwired into us that is the
necessary precursor for any supposed
‘overactive agency detection device’
in our heads.
However, what happens if we apply
that principle of causality cosmically?
What sort of cause could produce the
whole of the contingent reality we
see around us? Non-theists in times
past denied that the reality we see is
contingent. But since we now have
very good reason to think the universe
had a beginning, 13 it’s clear that it
doesn’t need to exist. 14 Atheists now
typically throw away the principle
of causality when it comes to the
universe; instead positing that the
universe supposedly just popped
into being from nothing, by nothing,
and for nothing. But why throw the
principle of causality away as an
explanation of the universe when it
works so well for everything in the
universe and is so fundamental to
the entire scientific enterprise? They
know that the only viable alternative
is an agent cause that transcends the
universe, such as God.
agenticity, and the
eclipse of reason
The irony is that this argument
from ‘agenticity’ may be pushed
further than the theorist bargained
for. Naturalistic evolution may itself
have rendered our cognitive faculties
unreliable. Without some way to
separate the cognitive faculties we
intuit design in biology by from other
far-reaching cognitive faculties, such
as our ‘hardwired’ belief in causality,
naturalistic evolution makes such
wider-ranging cognitive faculties
inherently defective for finding truth.
Ironically, those faculties include
the formation of a belief in naturalistic evolution (and even a belief in
science itself). Therefore, if our cognitive faculties are only as reliable as
this line of thinking suggests, then
the belief in naturalistic evolution
is itself likely formed by unreliable
cognitive faculties, and is thus a
self-referentially incoherent belief
to hold. 15
Agenticity: without excuse
Romans 1:19 emphatically declares
the reliability of our ‘design-biased’
faculties for recognizing God behind
it all. In fact, they are reliable enough
that we are morally culpable for not
responding to the revelation of God in
nature appropriately. We are without
excuse if we ignore the Designer of
nature. Indeed, taking God out of the
picture calls into question our ability
to reliably believe anything our brains
come up with, not just its belief in the
God who designed biology.
1. Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W.
Norton & Company, New York, p. 1, 1986.
2. Shermer, M., Why people believe invisible
agents control the world, scientificamerican.
com/article/skeptic-agenticity, 1 June 2009.
3. Doyle, S. and Wieland, C., The ‘giant footprint’
of South Africa, creation.com/giant-footprint,
14 January 2012.
4. Meyer, S.C., Signature in the Cell, Harper-Collins, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009.
5. Marks II, R.J., Behe, M.J., Dembski, W.A.,
Gordon, B.L., and Sanford, J.C. (Eds.),
Biological Information: New Perspectives,
World Scientific Publishing, Singapore, 2013;
6. Dembski, W.A., No Free Lunch, Rowman &
Littlefield, New York, 2002.
7. Gitt, W., Without Excuse, Creation Book
Publishers, Atlanta, GA, 2011.
8. Truman, R., Information Theory—part 1:
Overview of key ideas, J. Creation 26( 3): 101–
106, 2012; Information Theory—part 2:
Weaknesses in current conceptual frame works;
J. Creation 26( 3): 107–114, 2012; Information
Theory—part 3: Introduction to Coded Information Systems, J. Creation 26( 3): 115–119;
Information Theory—part 4: Fundamental
theorems of Coded Information Systems
Theory, J. Creation 27( 1): 71–77, 2013.
9. Behe, M.J., The Edge of Evolution, Free Press,
New York, 2007.
10. Williams, A., Life’s irreducible structure—part 1:
Autopoiesis, J. Creation 21( 2): 109–115, 2007;
Life’s irreducible structure—part 2: Naturalistic
objections, J. Creation 21( 3): 77–83, 2007.
11. Barrett, J.L., Out of the mouths of babes: Do
children believe because they’re told to by adults?
The evidence suggests otherwise, theguardian.
children-god-belief, 25 November2008.
12. Craig, W.L., Scientific faith, reasonablefaith.org/
scientific-faith, 28 February 2016.
13. Sarfati, J., If God created the universe, then who
created God? J. Creation 12( 1): 20–22, April 1998.
14. Pruss, A.R., The Leibnizian Cosmological
argument; in: Craig, W. L., The Black well Companion to Natural Theology (Kindle edition),
Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK, Kindle
Locations 907–3035, 2009.
15. Plantinga, A., Where the ;on;ict ;eally Lies:
Science, Religion, & Naturalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 307–350, 2011; reviewed
by Kay, M., The hidden god of evolutionary
chance vs the Bible’s all-intelligent God,
J. Creation 28( 2): 29–34, 2014.